Meet Jeannel, Berlin’s Rising R&B Star
Her newest EP, Black Sesame, is reminiscent of Lana del Rey and FKA Twigs’ early tracks.
You’re around six years old, reticent and timid. In a dimly-lit room, you catch a whiff of resin and though a nerve-racking feat, it is in this space that you spend the next 12 years learning to play the cello. You do, after all, have a classical musician as a father, prompting you and your two sisters to dive into the world of sound. If you aren’t dancing to 2000s R&B, you’re taking cues from the slick techno tunes reverberating throughout Cologne, where you were raised. Your biggest artistic epiphany unfolds on a trip to New York City, where the underground voices of Kelela, Zebra Katz, and Kelsey Lu preface the early chapters of your experimental music career.
You’re Jeannel, a Berlin-based R&B maverick, avidly oscillating between the softness of R&B and the fervor of electronic beats. With a crystal clear perceptiveness of femininity and self-healing, you’re as much of a sonic storyteller as you are a lyricist.
Welcome to the world of an aesthete – someone whose childhood influences are intrinsic to her artistry and whose upbringing is so multidimensional that it seeps through her music. Welcome to the world of Jeannel. Her now-signature pensive falsetto will bring Lana del Rey and FKA Twigs to mind.
Stretched across four tracks, her latest EP Black Sesame is a transcendent tale of alienation, gender, and above all, resilience. Jeannel admits that she soundtracks the frailty this generation has forcibly witnessed: “The world is suffering from the pain of thousands of years of over-exhaustion of a toxic male principal for the sake of competition, productivity, materialism, rationality and exploitation.” It’s obvious that she takes from her headstrong mother, who spent most of her life subverting patriarchal pressures. Riffing on her own healing journey, Jeannel conjures a sultry and self-empowering sense of intimacy among her audience. Stated plainly, Black Sesame is a metaphysical tumble into the depths of Jeannel’s being. Her voice as her medium, she demands that we not only listen, but that we likewise see and feel.
Black Sesame is out now.